I of course came into the race with some goals, for the most part the confidence was coming back too. Where it was in lack, I kept repeating that special letter from the sister, "...hope Mexico shows you how strong you are...". The goals were simple, just what we've been doing in training. Makes total sense, right?
1. Swim smart, keep focused on the feet, stay in it mentally
2. Bike 22.2mph (Held plenty confidence here, this course that was a deal)
3. 3:15 marathon off the bike, that's what the legs do training
...and this is how the 140.6 mile day unfolded.
Swim, they changed our course thanks to some crazy weather (I didn't notice, but then again people from islands never panic in chop or waves). Nobody was allowed to warm up, just get in and go. After plenty of arm circles it was show time, I was struggling to get fired up. Swim warm ups always give me that moment underwater to myself, to just get my head in the game. 400 yards in I was in a good position, then the annoying drafting I do to better swimmers served me right with a kick in the hand that had me aching in pain. Needless to say, damn it. Solo swim the rest of the way and 8th out of the water with work to do.
On the bike, I was already fired up when it usually takes me 20 miles or so. By mile 5 I caught the chase pack of girls and made my way to the front. The little train they had going had me scared for drafting calls so I made sure to be on the front and by this time it was near the headwind section on the windy side of the island. Maybe it was tactically a bad move to fight the wind in front, but I know where I am strong on the bike and it is in the wind, I love it, its my favorite and it feels like home. I broke away after the first loop and was trying to make up a little time on the 3 girls at the lead, but...I landed on the side of the road with my pedal out of the crank. I watched all the girls I worked so hard to pass go by me. Deep breath, heard my sister again, "...hope Mexico shows you how strong you are". I was still calm at this point, got the shoe off, pedal in the crank, shoe on, up and riding. about 10 minutes later caught the chase girls again and out came the shoe. Now I was frustrated. All that hard work and I'm on the side of the road again. Passed again. Up and riding again and I beg the drafting marshall to please call the bike support and get me a wrench (thank God for the Spanglish I have).
Turns out, if I pedal with my foot out of the shoe, on top of it, then the pedal stays in the crank?! So I rode bike for 8 miles with my right foot on top of the shoe mostly only using my left leg! I catch and make my way to the front of the chase pack again, I feel so island style riding barefoot but thats all I can do until I get to the mechanics. Little over half way through second loop I'm on the side of the road with mechanics again and seeing my 22.2 mph goal slip sliding away. But I won't quit, I beg for help, crying on the side of the road again. And they tell me to just ride one legged and will catch me with tools up the road. So there I go, catching the girls again...
After the 4th stop I am good to go, the Mexican bike mechanics come to some great fix that I am not sure how I will ever get the crank and pedal out ever again, but at least I am riding. The 3rd and final loop have no stops, just ride my ass off to catch the chase pack again. Pass them and work towards Malika now between the groups, the windy section that I love! I yell to her to lets go, lets finish this ride and make it count, last one of the year...
It was refreshing to see all the bike work we have done pay off, I was confident I could ride hard. Inside, the temptation to be upset about my 4 stops on the side of the road was crushing me a little, that time it cost and the energy to have to keep catching back up. But I knew there was still a marathon to run and I had to let the bike go...
7th girl to start the run. Oh my, the little dream of a top 5 would literally take all my courage. Within the first mile I was passed by 2 girls. Scared, no. Coach helped me believe that I could run the numbers we have been doing in training. I just had to be patient, stick to the plan, and believe. That's when the race began...moved to 8th, then 7th, then 6th, then 5th by the half way point. And at this point I took a Mexican gel that had me hurling over inside and out. At half way you are never safe so I kept going. A woman on the side of the road yelled, "Bree, with every step think of your family cheering for you". I don't know who she was but I loved her for that.
My brain was literally needing to focus like never before, mentally I was getting drained by mile 20. 1...2...3...1...2...3. And I still had to barf and poo. So I threw up the Mexican gel but could not shake the poo (sorry for too much info, thats sport though). I ran into the porta potty scared to death that I'd lose my 5th place, but I know me, if I hold it in I'll fall over in a side cramp. Got out with 4 miles to go and they told me Ashley is about to catch you.
All I could think of was Mike riding bike next to me while I run the hard days, Kainoa telling me to do a good job at work, my sister telling me she hopes Mexico shows me how strong I am, and I just start hauling ass with whatever is left in me. (That's the photo above from Mo, "do you see her?") I could not look back, the fear of being run down after working so hard for my top 5 was a horrible reality that has happened to me many races. By now a mile to go, into the finish line I did look back, I had too. I wanted to make sure I had time to enjoy the finish line, the crowd, and soak it up...
The finish line was beautiful, like I always dream a good Ironman would look like. I was in tears, jumping up and down, laughing, waving, kissing people, it was the perfect way to end the season. When you give it your all for 140.6 miles it truly is such a humbling, satisfying feeling that I already know will carry me through the holidays. Thank you so much to the great family, friends, and sponsors that have helped make the moment so unbelievable. Bike Works, Splish, Zoot, Breakthrough Nutrition, Ceepo, Rolf Prima, Kona Aqutics, Junko, Odin, Coach Cotter, THANK YOU!!! Masuda and the boys, of all the places this season has taken me, 5 different (and beautiful) countries, there is no place more pretty than home with you guys. The farts, the stinky dog, all of our egg breakfasts while you wait for me to finish Sunday runs, our surf sessions, the laundry piles, netflix nights, homework, singing in the car on dump runs, Costco trips and eating all the samples, I am the happiest woman in the world to know life with you! It is my favorite moment in life...thank you.
...and so, it is holiday time, fruitcake eating time, no more geeky tall socks time.
Coach said something like this, "Bike only to get smoothies or coffee, never in spandex and not long enough to ever need fuel. No run, but you can walk your dog and hike. As for swim, in the ocean a little, but better to surf and paddle, snorkel, swim with dolphins, enjoy". It has been a very good season, so many lessons and so much to smile about looking forward to next season. Till then, a kickball tourney is on the horizon, Christmas tree shopping, Jingle Bell jog (only to dress up in a red tutu), and plenty of time to bake.
Thanks again for reading, I have appreciated all the cheers over the season and along the course Sunday. And Masuda baby, Thank you for believing in me all season long, especially when I was forgetting to believe. Home sweet home...